Sweet Tart Crust (Pâte Sablée)

16 Jan

I failed at making a chocolate caramel pretzel tart a couple of months ago, and, while tasty, it might be the second ugliest thing I’ve ever made, just after those Apricot Pistachio Squares.  I had extra ingredients so I made minis of the tart (as shown below), and it’s not so noticeable.

But once I took the tarts out of their pants, the crust completely fell apart.  Leslie, Shirley, Tri, and Spencer came over for a little Middle Eastern potluck back in November.  You can see my crumbly hot mess of the tart at the top of the photo below.

Middle-Eastern Potluck!

Middle-Eastern Potluck!

On top of the fact that the crust fell apart, the caramel didn’t come out creamy enough so it hardened.  This all made the tart nearly impossible to cut with a fork without a messy explosion. Case in point below:

Can't Take Tri Anywhere

Can’t Take Tri Anywhere

I recently had an opportunity to redeem myself with another tart crust that doesn’t fall apart, when I came across a recipe for a deliciously buttery pâte sablée.  The flavor is rich and texture is similar to shortbread. I’m super excited to share the filling recipe soon, but I wanted to separate this recipe out since it’s versatile enough to be something I’ll definitely refer to again in the future.

Here is the recipe from a new cookbook I recently got, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put the flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in – you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.

    Pulsed Dough

    Pulsed Dough

  2. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add a little at a time, pulsing after each addition.  When the egg is in, process in long pulses – egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change – heads up.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
  4. Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy-handed – press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

    Dough Pressed Into Pan

    Dough Pressed Into Pan

  5. FOR A PARTIALLY BAKED OR FULLY BAKED CRUST:  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of foil and fit the foil, butter side down, tightly against the crust. Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes.

    Tightly Fit Foil Around Tart

    Tightly Fit Foil Around Tart

  6. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).

    Partially Baked Crust

    Partially Baked Crust

  7. FOR A FULLY BAKED CRUST: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. If you want a more browned crust, continue baking for another minute or two, but keep a very close eye on the crust as it can go from golden to too dark quickly. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

    Sweet Tart Crust

    Sweet Tart Crust

  8. TO PATCH A CRUST IF NECESSARY: If there are any cracks int he baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to take the rawness off the patch.

If you want to try a sweet tart dough with nuts, reduce the amount of flour to 1 1/4 cups and add 1/4 cup finely ground almonds or walnuts, pecans, or pistachios).

Storing tip: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer – it has a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.

Instagram Lately – Holiday Delectables

3 Jan

I have been posting a ton of recipes made in our new kitchen lately, and have been hit or miss with including links to the recipes, so here they all are!

My round-up from Thanksgiving this year:

 

This year, instead of using all chicken apple sausage, I used half hot Italian and half chicken apple sausage to try and balance the sweetness of the cornbread.

Butternut Squash Soup with Scallops and Garlicky Swiss Chard

Butternut Squash Soup with Scallops and Garlicky Swiss Chard

I made the soup this time without the apple, and double the carrots and celery.

And here’s my December round-up:

Erica's Birthday Cupcakes - Chocolate Stout Cupcake with Salted Caramel Frosting

Erica’s Birthday Cupcakes – Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

I used the cupcake recipe from the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes.  Being the practical baker that I am, I didn’t want to buy a whole 6-pack of Guinness since we’re not Guinness drinkers at home. So I bought a bottle of Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, which worked great except I didn’t realize the bottle was 9% ABV which is over twice what Guinness is.  The cupcake was a teensy bit more beer flavored than the Guinness Cupake usually is, but it still tasted fine.  I used the frosting recipe from the Samoas Cupcakes, and added 1 cup extra powdered sugar to thick it a bit. Since I wasn’t dipping the cupcake in coconut flakes, I wanted to make the frosting a bit more substantial. It still wasn’t thick enough to pipe but it was delicious nonetheless.

 

Apple-and-Pear Galette with Walnut Streusel

2 Jan

I made mini brown sugar pumpkin cheesecakes with oreo crust this past Thanksgiving as one dessert per my uncle’s request for something with pumpkin. And my mom wanted something fruity, so I figured it would be great to take advantage of pears being in season.  However, I don’t like it when cooked pears get mushy.  I came across this recipe on Food & Wine magazine, and thought the addition of the apple and streusel would keep the galette’s texture interesting.

I was also super excited to roll out the dough on our gorgeous new countertop!  Thanks Johnny and the Expert Hardwood Flooring team!  These small joys are what life is all about.  At our old apartment, Kev and I didn’t have a lot of kitchen counter space and what little we had was right next to the sink and really the only prep space we had.

On the New Countertop!

On the New Countertop!

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2  cup ice water

    Crust Ingredients

    Crust Ingredients

Streusel:
  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
Filling:
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, halved, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 firm Bartlett pears, halved, cored and sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. MAKE THE CRUST In a food processor, pulse the 2 cups of flour with the salt. Add the butter and pulse until the pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle the water on top and pulse until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather up any crumbs and pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until well chilled, 1 hour.

    Crumbly with Pea Size Clumps of Butter

    Crumbly with Pea Size Clumps of Butter

  2. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE STREUSEL Preheat the oven to 400°. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and bake for about 8 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool, then chop.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the brown sugar and salt. Add the butter and, using your fingers, pinch it into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the walnuts and pinch the streusel into clumps. Refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
  4. MAKE THE FILLING Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the pears, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, the salt and lemon juice. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 19-by-13-inch oval. Ease the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Mound the filling in the center of the oval, leaving a 2-inch border. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the fruit and fold the edge of the dough up and over the filling.

    Ready for the Oven

    Ready for the Oven

  5. Brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle evenly with granulated sugar. Bake the galette for 45 to 50 minutes, until the fruit is tender and the streusel and crust are golden brown. Let the galette cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if using, before serving.
    Apple-and-Pear Galette with Walnut Streusel

    Apple-and-Pear Galette with Walnut Streusel

     

Sliced!

Sliced!

This was a big hit at Thanksgiving.  The tart crispness of the apple really complimented the sweet pear. My aunt hosted this year, so I had to let it cool and bring it over at room temp, but I would definitely recommend serving it a little warm with ice cream if you make it at home!

Chocolate Earl Grey Bundt Cake

1 Jan

As with every IMAX Thanksgiving potluck, I test out my annual holiday dessert that I make a number of times across the various social gatherings.  This year, I picked a not-so-seasonal dessert and went with the chocolate and earl grey combination.  I had seen a number of different recipes pairing those two flavors together, but the Real Simple one caught my eye.

The texture of the bundt cake is great.  You get a nice crust that’s reminiscent of a brownie, though no where near as thick, and the inside is moist.  I’ve made this with full-fat sour cream subbed for the yogurt, used nonfat greek yogurt, and whole fat regular. There wasn’t a big difference in flavor with any of those versions.

Chopped Baking Chocolate and Earl Grey Tea

Chopped Baking Chocolate and Earl Grey Tea

Here’s the recipe!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Earl Grey tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea leaves
  • cup water
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • eggs
  • cups granulated sugar
  • ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • Powdered sugar (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Coat an 8-cup fluted tube pan with cooking spray.
  2. Brew the tea in the water 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags or strain the leaves and set the brewed tea aside.
  3. Using a mixer, beat the butter, eggs, and granulated sugar until fluffy. Blend in the chocolate.

    Butter, Eggs, Sugar, Chocolate

    Butter, Eggs, Sugar, Chocolate

  4. Beat in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, yogurt, and brewed tea. [NOTE: If you use a stand mixer to blend the ingredients in this step, it will make a huge mess even if you start it on low.  I’ve made this four times to date, and it’s happened every single time. I would recommend whisking everything in until everything is just combined.]
  5. Pour into pan. The batter will be a little runny.

    Batter is lighter than it finishes

    Batter is lighter than it finishes

  6. Bake 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out with only a few crumbs attached. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Turn out of pan and cool.
  7. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

    Chocolate Earl Grey Bundt Cake

    Chocolate Earl Grey Bundt Cake

I ended up making 5 of these between Thanksgiving and Christmas between all of the family dinners and potlucks.  I would say the only pain is cleaning the crevices of the bundt pan that ALWAYS have crumbs stuck to them!

Pintuck Apron

21 Dec

For Jamie’s birthday nearly two years ago (yes – still drowning in a sea of backlogged posts), I made this fun little pintuck piece since she’d told me she was in the market for an apron.  I found the tutorial on Wholly Kao, and wholeheartedly accepted the challenge.  And boy, was it a challenge!

I don’t think I’ve made something this difficult since those baby booties a few years ago.

Here’s the tutorial as adapted from Wholly Kao, but having the diagrams she drew in her tutorial will really help you:

ITEMS:

  • 1 yard fabric for the apron
  • 1/2 yard coordinating muslin (for the waist strap and ruffles)

INSTRUCTIONS:

MAKE THE TOP:

  1. Measure the distance between your armpits to get the width of the chest. Take this width and subtract 4. This new number will be how wide your top part is at its widest point. Measure from your chest to your waist to get the height.
  2. Take your patterned fabric and measure out a piece that is slightly larger than the width and height dimensions you just measured. Fold the fabric in half width-wise.
  3. Using a Sharpie, draw your top shape onto the folded fabric. This shape should look like a heart with a flat bottom. The widest point of this ‘heart’ is your (chest width minus 4 inches) measurement. Cut along your Sharpie line. You’ve now got your top piece! You can measure it against yourself to make sure it’s not too wide. If it is, trim it accordingly.

    “Heart” chest piece

MAKE THE BOTTOM:

  1. Measure out a piece of fabric for the bottom part that is 36-inches wide. The height for this can be as tall as you want. For instance, if you want the apron to hit mid-thigh, measure the distance from your waist to your thigh and use this number as the height. Spread the fabric out and cut out the corners so that they’re rounded. (see diagram)
  2. Now it’s time to make the pleats along the waist. Take the fabric at the top of the wide side and fold it accordian style and pin it in place. Do this only in the middle, leaving 6-inches on either side of the folds. Next, sew the folds in place, 1/4-inch in from the edge (see red dotted line in diagram).

    Tuck and Pin

    Tuck and Pin

  3. Pin the top and bottom part together on the wrong side. Sew the two pieces together on the wrong side, 1/4-inch from the edge.

    Coming Together

    Coming Together

MAKE THE WAIST STRAP:

  1. Cut a strip of muslin fabric (I chose a coordinating periwinkle shade) that is 5-inches tall and as wide as your bolt of fabric. Sew the ends of two of these straps together on the wrong side, making one really really long strap that is 50-inches long (This piece will tie around your waist, so you want to cut the length to fit you).
  2. Fold the strap in half, making a 2.5-inch tall piece. Pin the ends together, then iron the fold flat.
  3. Sew around the edges of the strap (red dotted line in diagram), 1/4-inch from the edge. Be sure to leave an opening on one side, so you can flip this piece inside-out.
  4. Flip the fabric so that the raw edges are now on the inside. Then sew the open edge shut (red dotted line in diagram).
  5. Now take the apron fabric and cut two strips that are 3-inches tall. Sew these together to make one long strip 50-inches long.
  6. Fold each edge in 1/4-inch and pin in place. Iron flat. Center this strip on top of the white strip and pin.

MAKE THE NECK STRAP:

  1. Cut a strip of apron fabric that is 2-inches tall for the neck strap. (The length of this depends on you: if you want a strap that is easy on and off, you can always put a buttonhole/button in the middle of this neck strap.)
  2. Fold the strip in half, making a 1-inch tall piece. Pin the edges together, then iron flat. Sew along the edges, making sure to leave an opening on one side. Once you’re done sewing, flip the fabric inside out.

MAKE THE RUFFLES*:

*If you want, you can just buy pre-made ruffles by the yard at the fabric store instead. If you do that, skip to “Assembling the Pieces Together”.

  1. Take the muslin fabric and cut it into strips that are 2-inches tall. Sew three of these together, making one really really long strap. Fold the strap in half.
  2. Make small pleats all along the fabric, pinning them in place as you go.

    Pleat, Pin, Repeat

    Pleat, Pin, Repeat

  3. Sew the ruffles in place, using the zig zag stitch on your sewing machine.

    Remove Pins as you Sew

    Remove Pins as you Sew

ASSEMBLING THE PIECES TOGETHER:

  1. Take the sewn edge of the ruffles and line them up with the raw edges of the front side of the apron, so the ruffles lie on top of the patterned part of the fabric. Pin the ruffles around the apron this way, then flip the ruffles out so that they look like this (diagram).

    Apron Hem - Finished

    Apron Hem – Finished

  2. Sew the edges together on the wrong side of the fabric. Then iron the front of the apron, where the fabric and ruffles meet.
  3. Pin the neck strap in place behind the ruffles.
  4. Now it’s time to sew everything together! Sew all along the apron, 1/4-inch in, making sure you sew the edges of the ruffle, as well as the straps in place.

    Neck Strap

    Neck Strap

  5. Last step: attaching the waist strap. Center the waist strap between the top and bottom pieces of the apron, and pin it in place. Sew along the edges of the inner fabric on the strap (red dotted lines on diagram), making sure you’re attaching the apron to the strap in the process.

    Waist Band - Finished

    Waist Band – Finished

Here’s the finished product:

Pintuck Apron - Finished

Pintuck Apron – Finished

And here is the birthday girl!

Birthday Girl!

Birthday Girl!

While the apron turned out pretty cute (if I do say so myself) in the front, it was just a hot mess behind it.  Lots of thread everywhere from places I went over and fixed, and I had a lot of thread-breakage issues for some reason with this project. I thought the tutorial was great with getting me to the end product, but there wasn’t a lot of thought put into covering up the unsightly back of the apron fabric.